Cheesy Lasagna

Ohhhhhhh is this a good one for you! I am all about this lasagna. We have made it a couple times and it is the perfect thing to have hiding in your freezer for a rainy day or a quick dinner. You may look at the amount of time it takes to make it and hesitate, but never fear friends: those couple hours are very well worth the multiple dinners you can pull out of the freezer and reheat in a pinch. As you may have noticed in a recent post, Will has left  me for the next three weeks, to gallivant around England. However, being the thoughtful man he is, he wanted to prep me a bunch of dinners before he left, so I could focus my time on working on training with Otis instead of stressing about how it takes me a painfully long time to make dinner. This casserole was one of the things he made, after we had  a huge success with it a couple weeks prior. It hits the spot on the “warm, comfy homemade meal” front, but is loaded up with veggies so you don’t feel *too* bad about the entire bag of mozzarella being strewn across the noodles. The eggplant and mushrooms give it that classic lasagna feel, with the addition of bell pepper and zucchini, if you choose, to add a little more texture. It’s a great recipe to have in your arsenal and it’s worth taking a couple hours on a weekend to prep and stock up on!

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So the other day Will and I registered for a couple races. The first is a virtual race benefiting the National Parks in honor of National Park week. We just have to run a quick little 5K, submit our times and voila! We’ll get our super-fly National Parks week virtual race medal in the mail next month. Despite having totally fallen off the running train, it shouldn’t be too big of a deal to accomplish. Otis and I have been running recently and while we’re working on pacing, he’s at least getting me up and moving. Will plays soccer weekly, so while that’s not designated running, it’s enough running to make a 5K no big deal.

Pike Place Mac n CheeseTo wrap up posting about Courtney’s visit, I wanted to share the recipe we made while she was here, with ingredients primarily purchased at Pike Place Market in Seattle! While the market was manic the Friday we visited, we still managed to get harassed by Pappardelle’s Pasta as we walked by, forced into trying some dark chocolate pasta. Upon discovering that was good, we tested some others and settled on getting some garlic and chive shells to make for dinner. Without much more of a plan, we kept shopping and thinking about what to make. We were planning to swing by Beecher’s cheese for the samples anyways, when it dawned on us to make a mac ‘n cheese from our ingredients! We picked up their flagship cheese, plus some Gruyère to round out the flavors. We had our plan and went about the rest of our day in Seattle.

Sweet Potato Mac and CheeseHi everybody! It’s Courtney again. The Courtney who usually sends in sweet, fatty, overly decadent posts to guest. I do that because those are the dishes I get most excited about, but they aren’t what I eat most of the time – even 20% of the time. Most of what I eat is full of veggies and plant-based protein sources. This dish, though. This combines everything I love about a rich, winter casserole (it’s been down to the single digits here in Boston and we need things to stick to the ribs!) and features more veggies than you can shake a stick at. Even better, nearly everything is local. The Boston Public Market – a year-round indoor farmer’s market – opened this year and is right on my commute home. Everything at the market must come from within 100 miles of Boston. This has been wonderful for my life but terrible for my wallet.

I think I qualify as a busy musician again, which is an interesting place to be after taking a couple years “off.” After casually committing to a couple ensembles at PLU that were scheduled for the same night, I am now occupied three nights a week, rehearsing! Two of the groups are PLU groups and the third is run by a PLU professor, the Washington Wind Symphony. Each are unique in their own way, as one is a wind symphony, one is a concert band mostly stacked with ed majors on their second instruments, and the third is a steel pan ensemble. Yup, steel pan. We all know that Will and I have enjoyed experiences in Middle Eastern music ensembles in the past, and at PLU the only “world” ensemble offered is steel pan. So I’ve joined them. We had our first rehearsal on Tuesday and I’m happy to report that I have good rhythm and the ability to get the groove. The bad news? I am horrible with any kind of drum stick and hitting things. But that’s okay, because it gives me an opportunity to grow and learn, which I have not been doing enough of since graduating with my masters over two years ago (eeeek).

Whoa y’all. It’s September. How did that happen? It’s hard to imagine that we moved across the country two months ago, since we already feel settled in and like we’ve lived in Tacoma for a few years…well, at least a few months. We have thoroughly been enjoying our early-onset fall weather, or what we believe is just the normal time the cooler temps arrive around here. The joy it brings us to look at the forecast this week and see highs in the upper 60s and lows in the low 50s/upper 40s brings hope that we will have an extended fall for the first time in…forever. We have grown accustomed to assuming September means fall, but realistically not getting the ideal temps for sweater-weather until mid-October, at best. And even then, it’s never a steady transition in the Southeast. Some days are frigid, others steamy, all in the same week. You get late-season hurricanes and early ice storms. It’s so much of a mix that I think we had given up on the idea of a proper fall. Until now. We can’t wait to see the leaves start turning colors and the sun to produce gorgeous sunsets over the Puget Sound. Yes, we know this means the rain will arrive and yes we know it means the days will get horrendously short in a few months. But for now, as new Northwesterners, we can take in the ambiance and be grateful for the beginning of the best season on the West Coast/Best Coast.

Today it actually got hot in Tacoma. This is surprising because we thought we wouldn’t shed our southeastern upbringings so soon, where 100+ degrees and humidity was the only thing that could qualify as truly “hot.” But today it hit 90 and we are only slightly less whiney than everyone else around here about the whole thing. We did add to our own complaining though, by talking a power walk at lunch, where Will actively tried to walk in the shade to protect his pale skin. But at least our offices are air conditioned, unlike our apartment (which feels fine, by the way). The last time we came close to feeling a temp this warm was…….

It’s not often that I make dinner and it is even more infrequent that Will and I make dinner before the sun sets. But I had the opportunity to make this spectacular dinner for Will one weekend night while he was working on his thesis. I had promised him I would do more cooking while he’s in his crunch writing time, but alas I have not done a good job of keeping up my end of the deal. I felt it was necessary to make up for my disappointing behavior by making a truly wonderful dish, full of distinctive flavors and that required ingredients I had not utilized before, myself. Ultimately, Will needed a break from writing his paper and decided to help with some of the steps, so we got to enjoy spending a much-needed break in our kitchen together. And the result? Absolutely wonderful.

I’m about ready to get all dolled up to go on a mystery date tonight! Will is taking us somewhere to celebrate our birthdays (only 11 days apart!) and despite my best efforts, I don’t think I’ve guessed where we’re going yet. So I’ve been instructed to get dressed up somewhere between casual jeans and work clothes, and that I don’t need to put too much of a “face” on. The suspense is killing me! Will’s also afraid by keeping it a surprise, it’s been built up way too much. Oh well, I’m still looking forward to it!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While this is clearly not a traditional Irish dish, I figured it could count as Irish-ish because of its bright green color – right?? And I ate a lot of peas when I was in Ireland, so that counts too…right?? Anywho, on St. Patrick’s Day, I always reflect on the wonderful summer I spent studying abroad in Ireland as well as marking my parents wedding anniversary. Today would have been 35 years! Hard to believe that it’s been six years since we lost my dad, but St. Patrick’s always makes me smile and think of him – my mother chose to marry him on the holiday because he was a true Irishman through and through, so she wanted to make it easy to remember their anniversary. Too cute, yes?